When you are in good times with your spouse, you will not even think about an estate plan, but when divorce happens, you have to update the plan.
Updating your estate plan after divorce is a good way to move on. If you pass away without updating the plan, the judge will use the current plan, which might turn out to be detrimental to the new spouse.
When you come up with an estate plan, there are various documents that concern your wife; these are the ones that you need to update.
Some documents need to be changed immediately even before the divorce is final, while others can be handled later.
Documents You need to Change Immediately
Advanced Health Care Directive
When you get involved in a medical emergency and you become incapacitated to the point that you need someone to make decisions for you, it is vital that you need to have someone you trust.
Divorce is usually a tough time for spouses, and you won’t be sure that your estranged spouse will make decisions in your best interest. This is why it is vital that you choose a different person to do this as soon as possible.
Power of Attorney (POA)
When you are incapacitated, you need to make sure you have people that can take decisions on your behalf, both financial and legal. Since you have a pending divorce, the spouse might not be ready to make vital decisions on your behalf.
Since the POA will grant someone the power to make critical decisions on your behalf, you need to make sure that the person who has the authority is one that you can trust. If it was your spouse before, this is the time to change this to be a parent, sibling or your financial advisor.
This is the document that tells your attending physicians what you want to do when it comes to end-of-life procedures. This is usually true when you aren’t able to communicate your desires.
Since you might be in a position to be bedridden, then you want someone who will follow your wishes to the latter.
You can go ahead and choose a new person to handle this, or revoke it altogether.
You need to come up with a last will and testament. When you decide to change the will, make sure you do it on time so that the existing one doesn’t remain valid. Remember that if you delay, then the old will stand and the ex-spouse will inherit the whole estate, something that you don’t want.
If you don’t change the will now, matters become complicated, and this will give rise to issues with your beneficiaries in the way the property is shared.
When it comes to the will, should you disinherit your estranged spouse totally? Some states allow you to do this, while others won’t allow this to happen. If you do, then the spouse will have the right to challenge the will and make sure they receive a portion of the estate.
Talk to an estate planning attorney to understand what happens in the state you live in, and then use the guidelines to make things work out for you the right way.
When handling these documents, make sure you enlist the services of an experienced estate planning attorney to guide you and make the process work faster. Remember that when you delay to change these things, then you stand to lose out or lead to contests on the will.
Documents to Amend Later
There are some documents that you can amend later. These include:
Your Prenuptial Agreement
If you had a prenuptial agreement, you need to use it to update the estate plan. Look at the document and see what your spouse is entitled to then amend the estate plan accordingly. The new estate plan needs to reflect these changes.
Find Out what You Can Change
Before you start updating the estate plan, it is advisable that you understand what you can and cannot change. Some designations have to stay in the documents till the divorce is complete.
Estate planning in light of a divorce is just a temporary measure that you take to safeguard your estate. Once you are done with the divorce, the next step is to revisit and edit the plan and see what needs to be added or removed. Work with a competent estate planning lawyer to handle the process for you.